Design, Development, and Test of Shuttle/Centaur G-Prime Cryogenic Tankage Thermal Protection Systems

  • Peter N. MacNeil
  • James E. England
  • Richard H. Knoll
Part of the A Cryogenic Engineering Conference Publication book series (ACRE, volume 33)


The thermal protection systems (TPS) for the Shuttle/Centaur were designed to provide fail-safe thermal protection during prelaunch, launch ascent, and on-orbit operations as well as during potential abort, where the Shuttle and Centaur would return to Earth. The TPS selected used a helium-purged polyimide foam beneath three radiation shields for the liquid-hydrogen (LH2) tank and radiation shields only for the liquid-oxygen (LO2) tank. A double-walled vacuum bulkhead separated the two tanks. The LH2 tank had one 1.9 cm-thick layer of foam on the forward bulkhead and two layers on the larger-area sidewall. Full scale tests of the flight vehicle in a simulated Shuttle cargo bay gave total prelaunch heating rates of 25.9 and 12.9 kW for the LH2 and LO2 tanks, respectively. Calorimeter tests on a representative sample of the LH2 tank sidewall TPS indicated that the measured unit heating rate would rapidly decrease from the prelaunch rate of ≈300 W/m2 to a desired rate of < 4 W/m2 once on-orbit.


Thermal Protection Radiation Shield Flight Vehicle Thermal Protection System Foam Panel 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter N. MacNeil
    • 1
  • James E. England
    • 1
  • Richard H. Knoll
    • 2
  1. 1.Space Systems DivisionGeneral DynamicsSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.NASA-Lewis Research CenterClevelandUSA

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